Mugabe says he regards white farmers as "enemies of Zimbabwe"

Tuesday 18 April 2000 22.22

The President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has said he regards white farmers as "enemies of Zimbabwe" because of their opposition to a draft constitution allowing the State to seize their land without paying compensation. Mr Mugabe said he had told white farmer representatives, whom he met yesterday, that people were full of anger towards them. Mr Mugabe's comments follow the killing of a second white farmer by squatters who took over his farm near Bulawayo.

Martin Olds, 42, who was married with two children, was shot and beaten by scores of armed men who arrived to take over his farm. Mr Olds' neighbour said he had received a call from the farmer to say he had been shot and wounded and needed an ambulance. However, the ambulance was unable to reach the house and police were asked to intervene. Mr Olds' death brings to six the number of people killed since the veterans of the 1970's war against white settler rule began leading squatters onto hundreds of white-owned farms two months ago. President Robert Mugabe has given his backing to the squatters despite a court ruling that the occupations are illegal.

The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, has accused President Robert Mugabe of trying to start a race war. Morgan Tsvangirai said Mr Mugabe's actions over the illegal occupations of white owned farms was a desperate bid to divert attention from the crumbling economy before next month's elections. Zimbabwe marked two decades of independence from Britain today, amid growing political and social unrest. Mr Mugabe cancelled three days of official celebrations, saying the money would go instead to the victims of recent floods.